Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How to make fabric banners

Dasha asks:
I'd like to know how to make large fabric icons on a flexible material, such as muslin or drop-cloth type canvas (flexible) to hang in the newly painted hallway. They will hang like banners. I hope to have them there for some years to come. The actual painting will be done by the kids, ranging in age from PreK to High School. Adults will do the prep work. What do you suggest for a primer and finisher. What do you suggest? Thank you. Dasha
I would do this project as simply as possible. Whenever working with children, the KISS method (Keep It Simple Sweetheart) is definitely the best way to go.

First, select your fabric—a heavy muslin or sailcloth would work well. You want something with enough weight that it will hang straight without having to weight the bottom. Try to get something with a fairly smooth texture. Wash the fabric to remove any sizing and put in the dryer without any softener. At this point, I would make my banners: cut to size, hem all edges, reinforce the top edge with a rod pocket so that you can run a dowel or wooden slat through it so it will hang straight and flat, attach hanging rings or tabs, or whatever mechanism you are going to use to hang them on the wall. Finally, press your banners so that they are flat and without wrinkles.

Now you are ready to paint. If I were doing this project, I would use DecoArt SoSoft fabric paint. This brand stays flexible, does not require heat setting to become permanent, and you can apply it using regular paint brushes. The downside is that it comes in rather small bottles. It does not require a lot of paint to cover an area, however. Once finished, leave them to dry for at least 24 hours. You can then press them lightly to remove any wrinkles and hang them up. No special finish is necessary and they should last for many years. They will also be washable if that is a concern. I have painted clothing with these paints and they wash and dry very well without fading, chipping, or cracking. For a piece that will simply hang on a wall, wear should not be a problem at all.

If you choose to use regular craft acrylic paints, you can do that instead. The preparation would be the same. The finished product may be a little less washable, but again you are not wearing these pieces and they should not get terribly dirty. Acrylic paints also would not need any sort of primer or finish coat to make them quite permanent. If you choose to use regular acrylics, I would use DecoArt Americana or Delta Ceramcoat. These are both high quality paints and will hold up well over time. You do need to be careful not to apply the paint too heavily (thick). If you wish you can add textile medium to the paint prior to applying it.

For brushes, you can use regular craft paint brushes for either of these approaches. You may find that flat or filbert brushes with somewhat shorter hairs will work better because they will be able to scrub the paint into any texture on the fabric. If you are highlighting and shading any of the elements in the design, working with the fabric paints will allow you to blend while the paint is wet. For any line work, you will want to use long-haired liner brushes. Make sure your table is covered with craft paper and do not move the piece while it is being painted. The paint will go though the fabric and you don’t want to mess up your painting by moving it around an picking up paint off the table cover.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if I can be of further help. Let us know how your icons turn out.

Judy Leasure, TDA


Anonymous said...

That was interesting and simple for what this teachers purpose is. I want to make banners for a friends wedding on which I plan to use wonder under to attach words, a cross, etc would I need to interface a sport cloth if a use two layers?

Judi W. said...

I have made a table banner using a sheet and letters which I 'wonder undered' and it didn't need any interfacing. You can see it here:

Not sure what you mean by sport cloth though. Please use the mail-to link at the top right of the page if you'd like to talk further about this.